All posts by Mike Cahill

Minutes of the ACAL 55 Business meeting

Held in person at McGill University on March 4, 2024, with 27 people initially attending, and 44 by mid-meeting time.

Laura Downing, outgoing ACAL President, profusely thanked Martina Martinović and her McGill team for their organization of ACAL-55. She then introduced the EC team of ACAL (Association for Cotemporary African Linguistics), and sketched some possible future improvements to the ACAL web site, such as a new Membership platform on the website and allowing credit card payment. She reviewed the history of the founding of the ACAL association 10 years ago, and recognized outgoing Treasurer Sharon Rose and Secretary Mike Cahill’s service for that entire time. Deborah Morton (attending by Zoom) was introduced as the new Secretary.

Sharon Rose gave a brief oral financial report (full report is appended) recognizing new Lifetime members, noting that dues have not risen in 10 years, that this year we have gotten $175 more income than expenses, and introducing Chris Green as the new Treasurer,

Term limit vote

Our original Bylaws did not specify term limits for Secretary and Treasurer, so the proposed change (bolded below, and previously approved by at least 10 voting members) was “The Executive Committee shall appoint one member of the Association to serve as Secretary and one member to serve as Treasurer, for a term of five years each. This appointment may be renewable for one additional year.” This was passed overwhelmingly.

EC and VP vote

Laura Downing thanked retiring EC member Galen Sibanda for his term as EC member. Michael Obiri-Yeboah was nominated as a new EC member. No other nominations were offered from the floor, and Michael was elected by acclamation (“Everyone is happy,” it was said).

A new Vice-President was due to be elected this year. Laura McPherson was nominated, and with no other nominations, was elected by acclamation.

At this point, Laura Downing officially stepped down as ACAL President, with appreciative applause, and James Essegbey, as incoming President, took over to chair the meeting. He gave an entertaining tribute to Laura Downing, likening her to rescuing him from being “easy-going.” He outlined some vision for future ACALs, including helping grad students financially more.  He also thanked the outgoing EC team.

Proceedings volumes

For ACAL 51-52 Proceedings (University of Florida), James Essegbey reported that they are in the midst of the crowdsourcing proofing stage of our publisher Language Science Press.

For the ACAL 53 Proceedings, Sharon Rose reported that they have finished their proofing, but are in a later stage of the LSP process, one they didn’t anticipate. Both of these sets of Proceedings are expected to be out by the end of 2024.

For ACAL 54 (University of Connecticut) we had no report.

The ACAL 55 Proceedings will have a due date of August 31 for initial submission, along with an appeal for reviewers.

James Essegbey thanked Michael Diercks and his students for their assistance in  preparing the LaTeX formatting that LSP requires for the ACAL 51-52 Proceedings. There is a possibility of having a LATeX workshop at next year’s ACAL.

Future conference locations

We are grateful to have future hosts lined up for the next few years, unlike some past situations. The 2025 ACAL will be at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities under Claire Halpert, on May 15-17, with an early submission date for Africans (possibly June) which may help in timing for visa applications. In 2026 ACAL will be at the University of Buffalo in collaboration with Syracuse and Rochester, with Jeff Good and Chris Green heading this. In 2027 ACAL will return to Georgetown University under Ruth Kramer. In 2028, looking quite far ahead, ACAL could come to Toronto (Juvenal Ndayiragije).

Discussion from floor

Ken Olson asked about the relation between Overleaf and LATeX, asking about the possibility of an institutional subscription to Overleaf. Chris Green responded that there is an “institutional membership” to Overleaf and he will investigate this.

Finally, James Essegbey raised the question of a “quota” for ACAL submissions, such as the total number of abstracts submitted. This generated several responses. An abstract-writing workshop was suggested. A division of labeling abstracts as either “descriptive” or “formal,” with an equitable division between these, was a possible suggestion. Or African vs. non-African. There was quite a low acceptance rate this year, due to the large number of submissions. This needs more discussion, and also connects to the hybrid option for attendance.

Respectfully submitted,

Mike Cahill, outgoing ACAL Secretary


2023-24 ACAL Financial Report

May 3, 2024

Prepared by Sharon Rose, Treasurer

Carry forward (August 31, 2022)                               $12797.08


3 lifetime memberships x $400                      $ 1200.00
26 x $25 memberships                                          650.00
55 x $15 memberships                                          825.00
Amazon Smile                                                          40.75
total                                                      2715.75

Statement of Information (State of CA)         $ 40.00
Registration renewal (State of CA)                125.00
PayPal charges                                                    115.03
LinguistList payments (multiple years)        1860.00
Conference payment (UConn)                        1000.00
total                                        3140.03

Total revenue 2020-21                                      -$424.28

Balance (August 31, 2023) $12372.80

Sept. 1, 2023-May 1, 2024 – Summary so far for this year

3 lifetime memberships x $400                      $1200.00
1 lifetime Africa membership x$200                   200.00
27 x $25 memberships                                         650.00
58 x $15 memberships                                         870.00
Total $2920.00

Conference hosting UConn (extra)                   1000.00
Conference hosting McGill                               1500.00
SiteGround for web hosting (annual)               85.75
PayPal charges                                                     157.45
Total expenses $2743.20

Total revenue (2023-24)                                        $ 176.80

Balance as of May 1, 2024                      $12 549.60

2023 Meeting Minutes

Minutes of 2023 Business Meeting

(Held in person at the University of Connecticut, June 14, 2023 with 38 people in attendance, and lasting approximately 55 minutes.)

ACAL President Laura Downing opened the meeting, profusely thanking Vicki Carstens and her team for hosting ACAL on fairly short notice. After two years of virtual meetings, “It’s good to be back in person!”


Each year we elect a new Executive Committee (EC) member, to serve for three years. Laura Downing emphasized that an EC member should be a regular attendee at ACAL and should answer emails promptly! We thanked Katie Franich, stepping down this year, for her service on the Committee! Jenneke van der Wal was nominated to serve as EC member, elected with close to 100% of attendees voting.

Laura Downing’s term as President ends in 2024, with James Essegbey, currently Vice President, becoming President. We will thus be electing a new Vice President next year; nominations can be sent Laura Downing ahead of time.

Future conference locations

We are grateful to have future hosts lined up for the next few years, unlike the usual situation in recent years. We do thank the following for their part in keeping ACAL running smoothly. The 2024 ACAL will be held at McGill University (Montreal) 2-4 May, with abstracts due in early to mid-September, under the leadership of Martina Martinovic. The 2025 ACAL will be at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities under Claire Halpert and Ettien Koffi. In 2026 ACAL will be at the University of Buffalo (under Jeff Good, with Matt Faytak), with Syracuse (Chris Green), and the University of Rochester (Nadine Grimm, Scott Grimm, and Asia Pietraszko) all collaborating in the planning.

Proceedings volumes

The ACAL 49 papers from Michigan State University are now published on the Language Science Press site! (ACAL 50 papers were previously published.)

For ACAL 51-52 Proceedings (University of Florida), James Essegbey reported that they currently have 18 papers ready. Half of the papers were submitted in LaTeX. Michael Diercks got a student assistant for the summer to do the remainder of conversions. They hope to have their Proceedings done by next year.

For the ACAL 53 Proceedings, Sharon Rose reported that of the 28 papers submitted, 7 were either rejected or withdrawn, with 21 expected to be published. Of these, 7 are in final version, 13 are being finally checked, and one has not yet been resubmitted following reviews. 14 papers were submitted in LaTeX, and 7 papers were submitted in Word and need to be converted to LaTeX. With editing, formatting, and submission to Language Science Press, their goal is to have this volume out by the next ACAL meeting.

For ACAL 54 (University of Connecticut) there is no call for submissions yet, but it will come, including instructions and page count. It was noted that the call for submissions usually comes within 2 1/2 months of the conference.

We do thank the LaTeX Committee again for developing tools for authors which they must use in preparing their submissions.

Mike Marlo notes that Language Science Press’ Contemporary African Linguistics (CAL) series publishes monographs and edited volumes, besides ACAL Proceedings. People are welcome to submit monograph-length works, even dissertations (which will be reviewed…). A principle for suitability: consider for the broader CAL if there isn’t already another series that’s a better fit (e.g. African Grammars and Dictionaries).

Discussion from floor on funding and visas

The question was raised about funding for those from Africa to come, since the cost is challenging. The possibility of attending by Zoom was raised, though it raises costs for the host university. (Vicki Carstens said that running ACAL as a hybrid conference on Zoom would add thousands of dollars to their university budget.) The ACAL as an organization is doing OK financially (see Financial Report below), but doesn’t have lots of money. Could we do a fundraiser such as GoFundMe? This is only for one individual at a time. We will take this issue to the EC for further discussion.

A related concern is for visas for the USA and Canada. The current Kenya backlog for visas is about a year. Thus, the earlier the deadline for ACAL submissions and acceptance the better. We can’t do this deadline now, since ACAL 55 is less than a year away. In the future, would there be a possibility of an early submission date for Africans?

Matthew Faytak suggested that ACAL have a standing committee for Resources, like we do for LaTeX.  Michael Diercks suggested that such a Committee would decide and define issues.  Matthew volunteered to head it. When we send out the Minutes, we can ask for volunteers who have a commitment to ACAL and this issue and respond well to email.

An African participant asked if he could have a letter or certificate of participation to show their funders. Answer: write to Vicki, who will be happy to send it.

Thanks to Sharon Rose, our ACAL Treasurer, for her report below. At this point, we have a healthy surplus. Some possibilities for using ACAL funds are: the EC could look into a better website, with smoother financial options than the current PayPal, and possibly help to pay registration fees from African countries. ACAL participants are encouraged to write President Laura Downing for any other ideas.

Respectfully submitted,

Mike Cahill, ACAL Secretary

2022-23 ACAL Financial Report – June 14, 2023

Sharon Rose, Treasurer

Carry forward (August 31, 2021)                            $15073.01


1 lifetime membership x $400                       $  400.00
34 x $25 memberships                                         850.00
40 x $15 memberships                                        600.00
Amazon Smile                                                         29.38

Total revenue 2020-21                                         -$2275.93

Statement of Information (State of CA)         $  25.00
PayPal charges                                                      130.31
African Linguistics School                                3000.00
Conference payment (to UCSD)                      1000.00
Total                        4155.31

Balance (August 31, 2022)                                    $12797.08

Sept. 1, 2022-June 12, 2023 – Summary for this year                   

2 lifetime memberships x $400                    $800.00
26 x $25 memberships                                       650.00
50 x $15 memberships                                       750.00
Amazon Smile                                                        40.75
Total                                                               $2240.75

LinguistList for web hosting (back pay)        1200.00
LinguistList for web hosting (annual)              600.00
PayPal charges                                                       93.16
Total expenses                                               $1953.16

Total revenue (2022-23)                                      $ 287.59

Balance as of June 12, 2023                           $13 084.67

2022 meeting minutes

Minutes of ACAL 53 business meeting
 (Held virtually April 9, 2022, with an average of about 61 in attendance over the course of the meeting, and lasting 1 hour and 15 minutes.)

President Laura Downing opened the meeting, profusely thanking this year’s host Sharon Rose and her colleagues at the University of California San Diego for this year’s second-ever virtual ACAL, which has gone quite well, with “great talks, including the plenaries.”

Future conference locations
There is not a 100% certain location for ACAL 54 next year, but Vicki Carstens has been diligently exploring the possibility with the University of Connecticut. There is not financial backing at this point, but the biggest challenge is where people would stay. The local hotel is reluctant to block off rooms ahead of time. Suggestions from the floor included getting the University Dean to apply pressure and looking to other nearby towns for accommodation (with shuttle buses). Vicki will keep the ACAL EC (Executive Committee) informed of the situation.

For future ACALs, some possibilities:

  • Claire Halpert –Minnesota, though not next year
  • Matthew Faytak, Chris Green – in 2-3 years, possibility of central and western New York universities working together
  • Mike Marlo, Missouri, though need to check with Rebecca Grollemund, possibly combining with the Bantoid conference

There was considerable and lengthy discussion on the pros and cons of virtual conferences. Pros include the possibility of more people attending (since there’s no travel expense or visa issues), and the organizers don’t have to line up housing. The main cons were the lack of personal interactions (including meals and reception with dancing), and the chance to meet people one has only read about. San Diego did have the Discord platform for not only comments, but potential for some personal interactions, which some used, and some did not find helpful. The idea of hybrid conferences, with both virtual and in-person attendees, was discussed with mostly favorable reactions, though its additional complexity was also recognized. Matthew Faytak offered to form a hybrid technology committee to help out future ACAL hosts and ensure there can always be a hybrid component offered at ACAL. Somewhat of a consensus reached was that the university sponsoring ACAL should have the decision.

Review: with no Business Meeting of the Association in 2020 (the cancelled Rutgers ACAL), all of the Executive Committee (EC) officers had continued for an additional year.

James Essegbey’s term as a member of the EC has expired, and Harold Torrence was nominated as the new member. No others were nominated from the floor. A Zoom poll was used to tabulate votes, and Harold was elected with 100% of the people who voted.  

Normally a new Vice President/President-Elect would have been elected last year, but time constraints and lack of nominations meant no one was elected. The ACAL Bylaws state that the President can appoint someone to fill a vacant position, and Laura Downing appointed Lee Bickmore to fill in for one year. This year, James Essegbey was nominated, with no other nominations from the floor. He was elected by 100% of people who voted.  He will fill the remainder of the term – 2 years, after which he will assume the position of President.

Proceedings volumes
ACAL 49: Galen Sibanda (Michigan State) reported that LSP’s holiday break had delayed processing, but now has the final proofs. Five papers need small corrections. All authors will be sent their proofs soon for final confirmation.

ACAL 50’s Proceedings are published.

Brent Henderson (Florida) reported that by the end of the month, people should have revised their papers, then comes the formatting. Though initial submissions did not need not to be in LaTeX, final submissions must be. Michael Diercks and his team have set up a series of information and tutorials on this under, and one person mentioned these had gotten him “80% of the way.” Diercks is quite willing to help people on an individual basis as well.

Sharon Rose noted that there will probably be a deadline of July 31 for submissions to ACAL53.

Financial report
Sharon Rose, ACAL Treasurer, reported a “healthy carryover” from last year, even though revenues were lower than usual. This is at least partially due to a large number of people who have decided on Life memberships previously. Also, we did not make a contribution to the ALS last year, but plan to do so this year. As usual, ACAL contributed $1000 to the sponsoring university (UC San Diego this year). There were a number of ACAL presenters who have not paid their (required) ACAL dues. It was recognized that the system for tracking these, as well as posting members on the ACAL web site, could use some automation, and Brent Henderson said he could potentially help on that. There are other opportunities for disbursal of funds, such as financial assistance for those coming from Africa to attend ACAL. Such possibilities will be discussed by the EC. The full report (the presence of which was a bit surprising, given Sharon Rose’s responsibilities in organizing ACAL this year) is below.

The meeting ended slightly later than planned, at 1:15, with many expressions of thanks to the ACAL team at San Diego.

Respectfully submitted,
Mike Cahill
Secretary, Association of Contemporary African Linguistics


2021 ACAL Financial Report
April 24, 2022

Carry forward (August 31, 2020)                                                    $11382.08


6 lifetime membership x $400                                             $2400.00
1 lifetime membership x $200                                                   200.61
55 x $15 memberships                                                               825.00
46 x $25 memberships                                                            1150.00
Amazon Smile                                                                                42.67

$ PayPal charges                                                                                  $177.35
$ Proceedings editing                                                                           750.00

Total revenue 2020-21                                                                $3690.93

Balance (August 31, 2021)                                                             $15073.01

Sept. 1, 2021-April 24, 2022 – Summary for this year                                          

1 lifetime memberships x $400                                        $400.00
33 x $25 memberships                                                           825.00
40 x $15 memberships                                                           600.00
Amazon Smile                                                                              24.38
Total                                                                                      $1849.38

Conference                                                                                1000.00
State of California                                                                        25.00
PayPal charges                                                                          128.57
Total expenses                                                                     $1153.57

Total revenue (2021-22)                                                       $ 695.81

Balance as of April 24, 2022                                                $15 768.82

prepared by Sharon Rose, Treasurer